GOSHEN — In four consecutive seasons of starting the football season off 7-0, one thing has still eluded Churubusco.
The Fairfield Falcons.
Despite an early lead Friday night, ’Busco had difficulties stopping the Falcons offense. Fairfield used 28 points in the second quarter to carry a slim halftime lead to victory 52-38.
Week eight on the schedule has had its series of bad luck, torment and curses for the No. 2 Eagles.
In the last four meetings between the two North East Corner Conference rivals, Churubusco has seen late leads fall to the Falcons. An average of six points has separated the Eagles from a win over Fairfield.
In previous matchups, Churubusco got off to a slow start with turnovers. Friday night was different.
The Eagles were the ones out in front early with Fairfield finding no answer for the Wing-T running offense of ’Busco.
The opening drive of the game went up on the scoreboard as six points with Josh LeFever taking a sweep 30 yards into the end zone.
The two-point conversion was in effect for Churubusco the entire night. The Eagles went up 8-0 going 4-for-5 on the two-point tries.
After Fairfield was able to cut the lead to 8-7, Churubusco saw a new quarterback come into the game in junior Alex Zolman.
Zolman replaced senior Kyle Monk on offense who suffered an injury to his non-throwing arm.
Three handoffs to senior back Kyle Mathewson gave Zolman a touchdown on his first series. On the third, Mathewson broke through the Falcon secondary for a 47-yard TD run.
The contest was at the Eagles' pace and they found themselves up 16-7 after the first quarter. However, five lead changes and 28 points by Fairfield made the second quarter a shootout.
After not connecting in the first quarter on any passes, Fairfield finally did to open the second. QB Cory Richardson found top receiver Tanner Foust for a 44-yard pass down the sideline to make it 16-14 ’Busco.
After a four-play drive, Fairfield needed just one play from Brett Vail to score on a 58-yard run and give Fairfield its first lead, 21-16, with 8:15 to go in the first half.
Mathewson returned the favor taking one of his 23 first half carries in for a touchdown to regain the lead for ’Busco 24-21. Mathewson rushed for 168 yards on 30 carries for the game.
Vail struck again as part of his 294 yards rushing for the night. On the Falcons first play from scrimmage Vail got the lead back for Fairfield on a 47-yard run, 28-24.
A blocked punt by senior Jeremy Forker sparked the Churubusco offense. Jordan Turner’s recovery of the block put ’Busco deep into Fairfield’s end of the field.
What followed was another touchdown from Mathewson. This time it came through the air on Zolman’s first TD pass of the game from 15 yards out.
The score gave Churubusco a short-lived 32-28 lead with 1:19 remaining.
Fairfield continued to march down the field on Churubusco adding a late score with 36.3 seconds left in the half, making it 35-32 at the break.
A much lower scoring second half had the Falcons holding ’Busco scoreless in the third quarter.
Fairfield widened its lead 42-32 on a QB keeper by Richardson.
The score remained that way into the fourth quarter with the Falcons using a 21-yard field goal to make it 45-32.
Zolman got his second TD pass of the night as time began to run out on Churubusco.
A 39-yard pass over the top of the Falcons defense hit Forker to make it 45-38.
The Falcons ran out the clock late after recovering an onside kick.
The loss drops Churubusco into a tie for first-place atop the NECC at 6-1. The Eagles are currently tied with Angola while Fairfield is 6-2.
The Hornets will be at Central Noble (2-6) for the last game of the season while Churubusco hosts Lakeland (4-4).